People either love massages and get on the table as often as they can or they avoid them, only going when they are in severe pain. I get it. Touch is a complicated thing. It's ok to not like massage or not like people to touch you. Here are some options that may help folks feel more comfortable making an appointment even though they don't like touch. We get folks relief without massage. There are other types of bodywork.
Minimal Touch/Clothed Bodywork
In March, we will begin offering Fascial Stretch Therapy. Clients remain clothed (wear something comfortable to be stretched in) and we will work on your fascia that way.
Regular massage sessions can be performed clothed too. No matter what, if you want to remain clothed during a massage, that is fine. Just tell us so we can prepare because we do use totally different techniques and products for clothed massages. You don't even have to explain why you want a clothed massage unless you want to--simply let us know you prefer to receive your therapy clothed when you book.
Touch is very complex. It seems very simple, just a nerve conduction phenomenon. But actually, the hand on the back does a lot more. Massages/touch naturally helps clients breathe deeper. The nervous system switches to parasympathetic (which sometimes does not happen even when we rest because we are in fact THAT stressed). That is part of massage that heals without even releasing tension in muscles (the other type of healing comes from the actual manipulation of the tissues...and ALL our issues are in our tissues). Remember that study with the babies in Russia that were fed and clothed, but there were so many orphans they couldn't be held? Or the study with the baby monkey that had a stuffed momma monkey with no food and the wire momma monkey with the bottle? The baby monkey actually had self destructive behavioral issues because the momma he wanted didn't have the food and the momma he avoided had the food. They did not develop properly. Emotionally, psychologically, and physically delayed because they were not rocked or cuddled. The need for touch does not change as we get older, it just looks differently. Holding hands, locking arms, hugs hello and goodbye, etc. The pandemic has caused a huge drop in available touch. While lack of touch is one type of trauma, bad touch is is another type of trauma. Massage therapy can be a tool used to relearn good touch. It is like getting a good partner after having an abusive one. We have to reestablish our boundaries and relationships with things. Another example is when a child says something sassy. We can fuss at the child and send him to his room, or we can calmly 1. name the emotion, validating the agitated state the child is in...which miraculously helps take the edge off 2. give them the chance to speak respectfully so that a productive conversation can follow. We take that approach with clients who have experienced bad touch.
Massage Therapy for Clients Overcoming Trauma
The most important part of the healing process for any type of massage therapy is communication. Some things we have done to accommodate clients uncomfortable with touch are: remaining clothed, 30 min sessions with goal to work toward 60 min, focus on safe areas like feet, scalp, arms, etc., compression and trigger point rather than effleurage (technique choices), and the lighting can be brighter rather than dimmed. If you have been to the Lafayette location, that is a cave! But I have turned the lights on or kept the door open doing some healing touch sessions.
Thank you for reading. If you have any question about the Fascial Stretch Therapy, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you would like to work on a Healing Touch treatment plan, email to schedule a free consultation.
Amber K. Darby, LMT, MS